While recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers—and fathers, too—may feel that bottle-feeding gives the mother more freedom and time for duties other than those involving baby care. Dad, grandparents, sitters, and even older siblings can feed an infant breastmilk or formula in a bottle. This may give some mothers more flexibility.
There are other reasons why some parents feel more comfortable with bottlefeeding. They know exactly how much food the baby is getting, and there’s no need to worry about the mother’s diet or medications that might affect the milk.
Even so, formula manufacturers have not yet found a way to reproduce the components that make human milk so unique. Although formula does provide the basic nutrients an infant needs, it lacks the antibodies and many of the other components that only mother’s milk contains.
Formula-feeding is also costly and may be inconvenient for some families. The formula must be bought and prepared (unless you use the more expensive, ready-to-use types). This means trips to the kitchen in the middle of the night, as well as extra bottles, nipples, and other equipment. Unintended contamination of formula also must be considered a potential risk.
If you have decided to bottle-feed your baby, you’ll have to start by selecting a formula. Your pediatrician will help you pick one based on your baby’s needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend homemade baby formulas, since they tend to be deficient in vitamins and other important nutrients. Today there are several varieties and brands of commercial formulas from which to choose.